How To Write A Definition Essay

March 27, 2017 F WP
write a definition essay

How To Write A Definition Essay

Table of Contents

How to write a definition essay (Writing Guide)

There are quite a number of essays that students are supposed to learn in high school and in college. Most of these skills are not just crucial for class work and exams, but rather they are also when it comes to daily activities at the place of work. As such, these are skills that go along the way into helping students tackle career chores with more ease.

The definition essays tend to be long and thorough. Though it is not as popular as most of the other essays, it can prove to be a challenge. As such, where given a choice, students are advised to choose those words which have plenty to write about. This is relative to the lengthy nature of the essay and could mean that the student may run out of ideas before they can meet the length threshold. There are those words that have a definite meaning, such as book, tree or even glass among others. However, there are those that have a more abstract meaning depending on the person giving the definition. In an example, a word such as honor, love or honesty will have a personal and an academic meaning.

As such, the word choice for a definition essay is crucial, relative to the determination of the amount of content a student can write about the same. The essay is written in the best choice of words for the readers to understand what the writer is trying to explain. It is important that the writer does not use jargons to explain a word as they are trying to get the audience to understand. As such, simplicity and clarity are the keys when writing a definition essay. As such, the definition essay elicits a debate among the readers and between the readers and the writer, with regard to what the definition of a certain word is. It is important the writer is able to engage the audience in a battle to determine the true meaning of a word from a personal and academic point of view.

Structure of a definition essay

Like most of the other essays, the importance of the outline cannot be underestimated. This is relative to the fact that the outline acts as the framework within which all the ideas in the essay are organized. It is also among the baselines which help the writer brainstorm on the ideas to include, check for weak links in the content development, reduce the time it takes to write the essay and refine the ideas outlay for the audience.

Below is an example of what the outline of a definition essay will look like.


  • Attention getter
  • Thesis statement


  • Body paragraph one: History and origin of the word.
  • Body paragraph two: Dictionary explanation and use of the word.
  • Body paragraph three: Personal definition.


Following the definition essay outline guide stipulated above, it is crucial to understand the various aspects which go into making a good definition essay. Each of the sections on the outlines play a crucial role to help the audience engage the mind of the writer and vice versa, in the debatable explanation of what a word will mean to either of the parties.

Introduction for a definition essay

The introduction of the essay is crucial, as the writer uses it to help the audience connect with the debate and the ideas floated in the essay. The first part of the introduction is the attention getter. This is also referred to as the hook, as it is developed in a manner to get the attention of the readers. There are quite a number of articles that can be found online, among other mediums and thus it is upon the author to make sure they get the attention of the readers for them to engage with the article beyond the topic. The writer has to make sure they have the best start for the paper to keep the readers going further into the text. Even for the teachers, it is important that the student is able to keep them interested, which translates into better grades.


The other part of the definition essay is the thesis statement. Like the attention getter, it is important for the writer to have the ability to develop a thesis statement which draws the readers to wanting to know more about the word. The trick here is to make sure the thesis statement is framed as an argument. In an example, the word patriotism does not mean that citizens have to blindly follow the values of the government, but those the nation was founded on. This creates an element of debate, where the author may argue, the sitting government does not inspire patriotism among the citizens.

This is a topic likely to spark a sharp debate and makes sure the audience is eager to get to the bottom of the debate. The thesis statement in this case is clear, which means that the writers should always avoid being vague. At the same time, when writing a definition essay, the writer should ensure the thesis statement is short and precise. It also has to be a complete sentence, not just a phrase that leaves the audience hanging, while identifying the purpose of the paper. Like an outline, the thesis statement is a guide, but one that defines the structure of the paper more than the outline does. The bottom line is that, other than the thesis statement being interesting, it should also be relevant to the debate developed in the paper.

Body paragraphs

  • The body of the definition essay articulates the debate established in the thesis statement an elaborated in the introduction.
  • The first paragraph of the body paragraphs debates the issues regarding the history and origin of the paper.
  • The first paragraph is associated with introducing the word to the audience and helping them to better understand the baseline of the word and what it to be discussed in the paper.
  • The first paragraph also helps to prepare the audience for the debate in the definition essay.
  • The second paragraph of the paper is associated with defining the word according to dictionary meaning.
  • The author may choose to select a number of reputable dictionaries to use, in the definition of the word.
  • The second paragraph is a section that relates to getting the meaning of the word with an academic approach.
  • The third paragraph of the definition essay is associated with the personal definition of the word.

How to write conclusion for a definition essay

The last part of the definition essay is the conclusion, where the writer summarizes the main points building the argument and then closing with an attention getter, by referring to the introduction and thesis statement.

Finalizing definition essay

To make sure the definition essay meets the academic and professional threshold, it is important to proofread the essay. This is to make sure there are no mistakes which could lower the integrity of the essay.

When choosing the right word for the perfect essay, there are some elements to consider which include using a word that is abstract and has a complex meaning. It is important that the word is debatable and one which is familiar. The other important aspects include reading up on the dictionary meaning of the word and then researching on the origin of the word.

List of topics for a definition essay:

  • Love
  • Success
  • Honor
  • Honesty
  • Patriotism
  • Hate
  • Terrorism
  • Farming
  • Technology
  • Laziness
  • Cheating
  • Marriage
  • Relationship
  • Family
  • Rudeness
  • Respect
  • Sacrifice
  • Boyfriend
  • Wife
  • Husband
  • Girlfriend
  • Home
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Privacy
  • Rights
  • Heroism
  • Courage
  • Fear
  • Poverty
  • Masculinity
  • Feminism
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